It has been widely predicted that the rate of ransomware attacks will increase worldwide in 2017. Ransomware is a type of malware used to encrypt all of your computer or smartphone data and is often used against companies, government agencies and even individuals. This dangerous malware derives its name from the hackers who put it on your system, then threaten to destroy your data unless you pay a “ransom” fee. While no one can be completely immune to a ransomware attack, everyone can take steps to become better prepared for one. Read on as we detail the outlook for combatting ransomware in 2017.
Ransomware makers, or more simply data thieves, are interested in one thing and one thing only: profit. In their view, creating and dispensing ransomware is the easiest way to achieve that aim. In fact, in 2016 alone, the rate of ransomware attacks quadrupled, leading to millions of dollars being paid out in order to rescue kidnapped data. To pile on, more than one-third of all companies who have fallen victim to ransomware attacks have lost revenue and credibility as a result of the attacks.
In response, both security and IT professionals have elevated this ransomware threat to the top of their respective priority lists. What can IT professionals really come to expect from ransomware in 2017? According to Elad Menahem, head of security research at Cato Networks, ransomware is constantly evolving. He predicts that these will be the most likely developments we see in 2017:
Targeted ransomware attacks will increase
Rather than targeting individuals, business servers will be targeted via ransomware attacks. These attack will likely be much more devastating than in previous years due to the fact that business networks are larger now than ever before.
Attacks will demand more than just money
Traditionally, ransomware attacks ask for a certain sum of money to remove the unwanted malware. In 2017 we may begin to see them ask for an action, such as sharing an infected file with co-workers. We could easily see more campaigns like “infect your friend,” where people are asked to infect someone else’s device without paying the money. All done with the aim to spread the hacker’s network of potential victims.
IoT devices will become increasingly vulnerable
At the end of 2016, the world witnessed significant attacks via the “internet of things.” Typically, IoT vendors do not release update patches, leaving those devices increasingly vulnerable over time. As a result, hackers are able to compromise an untold number of IoT devices.
This particular outlook may sound somewhat dire. But there is reason to be confident that, if properly prepared, you can better prevent falling victim to even the most well-designed ransomware attacks. According to Tripwire, there a several precautions on can take to better defend their own devices and networks, they are:
Utilize backup management services
Ideally, your backup activity should be diversified, so that the failure of any single point won’t lead to the irreversible loss of data. Store one copy in the cloud, resorting to services like Dropbox, and the other on offline physical media.
Personalize your anti-spam settings
Most ransomware attacks are known to be distributed via eye-catching emails that contain infected attachments. It’s prudent to configure your webmail server to block dubious attachments with extensions like .exe, .vbs or .scr.
Utilize patches to keep your operating software up-to-date.
This is a good habit that can help prevent compromises via exploit kits.
By doing this, harmful processes won’t be automatically launched from external media, such as USB memory sticks or other drives.
Disable file sharing
If you happen to get hit, the ransomware infection will stay isolated to your device only.
Use various, strong passwords across all platforms
Set unique passwords for different accounts to reduce the potential risk of a remote data breach.
Let’s face it, ransomware is today’s number one cybersecurity threat. That makes the implementation of the aforementioned countermeasures a must. Otherwise, your most important files could be completely lost. At MDL Technology, we’re working around the clock to provide both protection and support for our customers. Learn more about our managed services here.